In Hartford And Online, 100+ Testify For Arts Funding Booster Bill

When Waterbury’s Afro Caribbean Cultural Center launched in 2021, co-founder Rafael Feliciano-Roman didn’t know how it was going to survive. Then it received state funding—and he watched it soar.

Now, he’s asking legislators “to take a leap of faith,” and fund Connecticut’s artists and cultural organizations at an unprecedented $58.5 million, so that they can continue to thrive.

That ask took center stage last Thursday, as legislators on the state’s Commerce Committee listened to over six hours of testimony for raised House Bill 6692, “An Act Authorizing Certain Arts, Culture, and Tourism Grants.” Proposed last month by Republican State Sen. Heather Somers, who represents Groton and co-chairs the Arts, Culture & Tourism Caucus, the bill would change how the sector is funded—and how funds are distributed—as early as this budget year.

It is most directly inspired by the 2021 creation of the multi-year, $30.7 million CT Cultural Fund, which has provided emergency operating support to arts and cultural organizations, and a new “Funding Roadmap” that proposes an overall $58.5 million in state funds for arts, culture, and tourism. In all, well over 100 people submitted written testimony in favor of the bill, while over two dozen more joined to testify in person and over Zoom.

“Over the past six years, this sector has blossomed,” Somers said in a Zoom call with the Arts, Culture & Tourism Caucus last month. “We have great momentum going. We have great collaboration between industry and the arts and our administration and the legislature. We just need to continue the push and push it over the finish line. This is way overdue. We really need to make an investment … this is an investment in Connecticut, in our future.”……

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Posted by Lucy Gellman
February 27, 2023
The Arts Council of Greater New Haven

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Connecticut Arts Alliance